On the Shelf – Howlings

As I mentioned, I barely missed being able to pick up the re-issue of Howlings from Scarlet Imprint when I was in England.   As I haven’t seen a full table of contents listing, I’ll start with that:


“The Unveiling of Hermes” – Hafiz Batin


“Andromalius the Liberator” – Paul Hughes-Barlow

“Sex in the Circle” – Thea Faye

“Tools of the Goetia” – Aleq Grai

“Order and Chaos” – David Rankine

“The Devil is in the Detail” – Thea Faye

“The Stifling Air” – Peter Gray

Three Books of Occult Philosophy

“Agrippa & the Magic Squares” – David Rankine

Liber 231 (Crowley)

“What Has Been Seen in Amennti” – Krzysztof Azarecwicz

“The Nightside Tarot” – Stafford Stone

“The Gates of Daath” – Donald Tyson

The Voudon Gnostic Workbook

“Into the Meon” – David Beth

Qutub (Chumbley)

“Getting to the Point” – Jack Macbeth

The Grimoire (of Pharaon)

“The Life of the Book” – Anon.

The above list wasn’t quite what I was expecting, in terms of topics.   I’d have liked to see more coverage of the traditional grimoires, and more of an even spread all around in article topics.

Having said that, I found this book to be fascinating.  Given our divide discussed before between scholarly and practitioner books, this is solidly on the practitioner’s side and will be of most interest to that group.   Even for the casual reader, it illustrates just how many different approaches there can be to texts, ranging from Faye’s reflections on practicing a male-dominated art to Hughes-Barlow’s mystical approach to Andromalius to Stone’s beautiful Nightside Tarot to Macbeth’s reflections on Qutub.

A few sour notes resound nonetheless.  The Beth piece on the Voudon Gnostic Workbook is quite problematic, and can be summed up as follows:

I’m not going to discuss The Voudon Gnostic Workbook much, because the true inner knowledge of my order is not in that work.  I will also not actually discuss said knowledge, but I will talk about how important it is to be initiated into my order to get it.  If I throw in some bits about lycanthropes and vampires, maybe no one will notice that I really haven’t said anything.

Of course, this is probably just my jealousy as an OTO member showing through, so what do I know?

If the book has one element that I find distasteful, it would be the underlying attitude.  Frankly, I don’t find the book quite as edgy as some of the authors seem to think, and if I don’t think you’re edgy, you’re probably not.  Also, whereas Peter Grey insists at the book’s beginning that “the academy of letters will not admit the grimoire,” I can say that my experience at a faculty committee meeting with Owen Davies’ Grimoires was that the academy not only admits the grimoire, but that it thinks it’s kind of cool.

This book will be of use both to practitioners who want to find new ways of approaching the grimoires, and to more casual readers seeking insights into how these books are brought to life by those who work with them.

Published in: on July 7, 2009 at 11:13 pm  Comments (7)  

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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Spot on!

    Some folks are so busy being edgy that they don’t always notice which way the wind is blowing… ;o)

  2. “The academy of letters does not admit the grimoire”? Kieckhefer’s book analyzing a grimoire came out eleven years ago. The way I remember it, that book started a whole new interest in studying magic without dripping ridicule all over it. Where the heck have these people been? Some of the best magic books I have read have been academic. And frankly, I can see the trail of academia a mile wide in certain magical paths that claim to be all oral all the time. But I guess I am not surprised to see people making claims like this. For all the elitism that certain types of magical practice exude, when it comes down to the hard work of studying a difficult text, most people can’t hack it. I don’t expect most people to read academic studies of magic even if they are magicians, but then they shouldn’t be making claims about what academia has to say or not about the subject. I hear this kind of thing all the time. To me it sounds just like the same anti-intellectualism that is a problem generally in US society. It is one of the reasons why I no longer read many forums on magic.

  3. I should probably add that these comments are only sprinkled here and there, so they’re not the linchpin of the text by any means. I’d also say that there is still some prejudice in the academy against studies such as this. That having been said, it’s by no means as bad as Howlings suggests at times.

    • Well, I guess I can imagine the prejudice against magic studies in academia.:) The way people would be so cranky and just plain mean about different approaches and objects of study used to really get to me when I was an academic.

      I am looking forward to getting this book. I’m glad you reviewed it.

  4. […] for Pre-Orders – Diabolical Diabolical, the sequel to the grimoire anthology Howlings (my review here) is now open for pre-orders from Scarlet Imprint.  Their description lists the following books as […]

  5. […] On the Shelf Review – Diabolical, Part 1 One of the many small projects I’ve assigned myself recently has been reading the new Scarlet Imprint book Diabolical, an anthology of works on various grimoires.  This is the sequel to Howlings, which I reviewed previously. […]

  6. I am really amazed at the amount of information that is available on this site, Its by far one of the best sites i’ve been to regarding the Western Mystery School Tradition. Thank you for participating in the Illumination of Mankind.

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